We’ve been learning how to overcome those tough times, where we feel like we’re surrounded by problems that threaten to steal our peace, and bring trouble into our lives.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are pressed in on every side, and are battling to stand your ground in faith and keep your peace, this message is for you. There is a strong and dependable power you can tap into that will not just strengthen you; but safely and surely carry you right out of your struggle and into victory!
I’ve mentioned before how Jesus warned us of difficult, stressful, and frustrating situations that we are bound to face in this life. Most importantly is that He also promised that if we stay vitally connected to Him, we would be well able to overcome each one.
Let’s take a look at His Words in John 16:33 (AMPC), “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”
Now look at what Philippians 4:13 says, “I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].”
The power to overcome any difficulty or trouble in this life has everything to do with our inseparable connection with the Person Who has already overcome all. When we learn how to tap into the life and peace we have in intimately knowing Jesus, and draw from His endless reservoir of life, we will be able to overcome, just as He has.
The book of James gives us clear practical wisdom on how we can draw from that supernatural power and inner strength of the Holy Ghost, Who lives inside us to do just that.
Recently, I spent time studying James 1:2-6, and with the help of my Sparkling Gems from the Greek, by Greek scholar Rick Renner, I found truth that will practically teach us how to tap into our Source of life and peace, and depend on Him to lead and even carry us out of our mess, and into victory.
Let’s begin with James 1:2 that says, “Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.”
This statement is quite laughable really. Who in their right mind would consider the trouble and distress they are trapped in as wholly joyful? Well the truth is, this very statement holds the key to unlocking the door that leads us right out of trouble and into victory.
Did you know that when James instructed us to be joyful, it wasn’t a casual statement? In fact, he made a very deliberate choice of words here. Being joyful in the heat of crises is more powerful than we might realise. What’s more, being joyful is not something that just spontaneously happens, it’s a deliberate, intentional choice we have to make. But oh my, the results of choosing joy - are so worth our while!
Today I want to tell you about the carrying power of joy. When I say joy, I mean real joy, that is a divine force given by the Spirit of God, that rises up strong from inside your spirit. A great way to understand the durable, sustaining force and power of joy is to compare it to happiness.
Scientifically speaking, happiness is a wonderful emotion that releases healthy hormones called endorphins in our bodies. These endorphins enable our immune systems to fight off disease and maintain a general good sense of well being.
I heard Rick Renner use this example in one of his teaching videos, and I loved the vivid picture it planted in my mind.
Imagine a pebble being thrown into a lake of calm water. As it hits the water it immediately sends out ripples that begin strong and obvious, then spread out quickly, and become less and weaker as they travel out.
Happiness is similar to that pebble. It’s an emotion that sends out good ‘shockwaves’ inside us, positivity charging and affecting our well being. It‘s also quite contagious and tends to ‘rub off’ and positively affect those around us too.
However, on the downside, this emotion is rather fleeting, because it’s dependant on circumstance. When things are going well for us, or we hear good news, or a good report, we feel really happy. Then the moment our circumstances change for the worse, that happiness disappears as quickly as it appeared.
Now joy, on the other hand, is entirely different. Instead of it being something that suddenly comes on the tail of a favourable circumstance, joy is a character, or quality of the Spirit of God Who lives inside us. It’s nature is eternal. It doesn’t come and go, it’s always there, waiting for us to draw from it and depend on it.
Unlike happiness that sends out ripples on the surface of the water, joy acts as a powerful current beneath the surface of a raging river. Even without physically seeing this current, it’s very real, and constant. The force of this Godly emotion has the power to carry us through any ordeal, into victory.
The joy that comes up from the Spirit of God inside your spirit literally is your strength to overcome.
Joy is unaffected by outward circumstances and usually thrives best when times are tough. I love this description I read the best, “Joy is God’s supernatural response to the devil’s attacks!”.
Now we can see an example of how this spiritual force worked for the believers in First Thessalonians 1:6. When we take a good close look at it, we’ll find a clue that leads us to activating this joy in our lives to the point where it becomes more than just a light nudge, but a mighty flow!
1 Thessalonians 1:6, “And you [set yourselves to] become imitators of us and [through us] of the Lord Himself, for you welcomed our message in [spite of] much persecution, with joy [inspired] by the Holy Spirit;”.
Besides confirming that this joy comes from and is inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul indicates that it was activated during times of persecution, which were tremendously stressful and dangerous times for the believers. He also gives a hint of one of the end results, or benefits of joy working inside the believers, saying they were set up to become imitators of Paul and Christ. In other words, when joy had done its active work in them, it had produced in them the same quality and maturity of those who overcome.
So let’s do a quick summary of what we’ve learnt so far about the spiritual force of joy.
- Joy is a character or the Holy Spirit that resides in every believer, giving it an eternal, divine nature.
- Joy is especially active under times of pressure, where it thrives.
- Joy is able to rise up strong inside a believer and carry them through their trial to victory.
- One of the benefits, or end results of joy is the overcoming, character of Christ formed within us.
The clue to how we can activate this joy is found when Paul tells the believers they had welcomed the message, in spite of the persecution. Joy comes when we willingly embrace the truth of God’s Word, in the midst of our trouble.
That’s where we are going to start off next week. Understanding how our attitude towards God’s Word causes joy to rise up as a strong, and unstoppable force of strength to overcome in life!